India Makes Strides Toward a Greener Future with the Green Chemistry Network Centre and the Green ChemisTree Foundation

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Contributed by David Constable, Ph.D., Science Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®

DSC_1090-2.jpgI have just returned from almost two weeks in India, where I had the privilege of participating in several conferences and workshops. Traveling to India makes for a long trip, but I am always very deeply appreciative of the tremendous hospitality, generosity and respect shown to me by our Indian colleagues; it is very humbling. I have been in India twice this year, and without question, it seems as though green chemistry progress is accelerating in India. This is cause for tremendous optimism given the environmental conditions that are a consequence of rapid industrialization and the fact that few pollution controls have been rigorously enforced in years past. Participation, interest and enthusiasm for green chemistry among government participants, industry colleagues, and academics provides strong evidence of a deep commitment to making lasting changes.

The first conference and workshop I participated in was in New Delhi, arranged by Professor Rakesh Sharma of the University of Delhi. The conference theme was “Advancing Green Chemistry:  Building a Sustainable Tomorrow” and was largely attended by the academic community in and around New Delhi. Professor Sharma is and has been a tireless supporter and promoter of green chemistry in India since 2001, and he continues to take every opportunity to convene conferences and workshops across India. I am always impressed when he presents the history of his promotion of and involvement in green chemistry over the past 14 years through a succession of conferences, symposia, workshops, television appearances and print media.

A workshop on the second day of the conference was focused on teachers and providing hands-on experience with the green chemistry experiments Prof. Sharma, Dr. Indu Sidhwani and Dr. M.K. Chaudhari have recently published. The level of enthusiasm for green chemistry among students and teachers is nothing less than amazing.

The second conference I had the privilege of participating in was IGCW 2017 in Mumbai. This was my fourth time at IGCW, and it was even more successful than the previous IGCW conferences I have attended. Nitesh Mehta, Badresh Padia and Krishna Padia are business partners (Newreka), founders of the Green ChemisTree Foundation, and conveners of the IGCW.  It is hard for me to convey the degree of their commitment to green chemistry and engineering, but the vision they have had for green chemistry and engineering in India has sustained them through some very difficult times for their business and less successful conferences in past years. I know of no other company in the world that even comes close to the extent of their personal commitment to advancing green chemistry and engineering, and I am truly inspired by what they have accomplished.

European businesses, in addition to Indian businesses, members of the Pollution Control Board, academics, and senior government officials were all present, with over 300 registered participants for the two-day conference and workshops.

On the Saturday and Sunday following the conference, the Green ChemisTree foundation and the ACS sponsored green chemistry workshops for students at the National College for Teachers and at Sumaiya Vidyavihar University. I had the privilege of speaking several times at both these events and was tremendously impressed by the level of engagement and excitement on the part of teachers and students. I can honestly say that I have never experienced this kind of excitement and commitment outside of India – truly impressive and a cause for great optimism that India will address its many sustainability challenges in the future.

Later on, we also visited two companies, Lupin and Hikal, both of which are generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, contract manufacturing/research companies. At both companies we were able to meet with and make presentations to a large portion of their process chemists about green chemistry opportunities in pharmaceutical manufacturing operations and the benefits of being a part of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. Once again, it was great to interact with a highly engaged group of chemists and chemical engineers!

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